Four candidates in next month’s NWT election, three of them with cabinet experience, have expressed interest in becoming the territory’s new leader.
Bob McLeod, who led the NWT for the past eight years, is not defending his Yellowknife South district.
Caroline Cochrane, the education minister and incumbent in Yellowknife’s Range Lake, said last week she would be interested in running for premier should she be re-elected in her contest with challenger Hughie Graham.
Wally Schumann, the industry minister, is also expected to consider a leadership bid if re-elected in Hay River South. Schumann said he would assess which 19 candidates had been elected before making a final decision.
Schumann’s opponent in Hay River South is Rocky Simpson, the father of RJ Simpson. RJ has just completed four years as MLA of Hay River North.
In an interview with Cabin Radio last week, RJ Simpson said: “I’m going put my name forward for premier because it’s time for a change. I don’t want to go another four years through the same system that we’ve been through.”
While Cochrane and Schumann must first win re-election to have any hope of the premiership, Simpson ran unopposed in Hay River North and is to be acclaimed, removing a key hurdle from his bid.
Similarly, Jackson Lafferty – who is to be acclaimed in Monfwi for the second time in a row – ran unopposed and is now interested in becoming the next premier.
“The last election, I was approached by numerous people if I would consider, then, the top job. At that time, I wasn’t prepared,” Lafferty told Cabin Radio.
“Now, this is an area that obviously I’ll seriously consider.”
Lafferty was the Speaker of the House for the past four years. Before that, he spent eight years as the territory’s education minister.
In the absence of a party system, the Northwest Territories chooses a premier through a vote among MLAs shortly after each election.
In the past this has been conducted by secret ballot, despite occasional calls for the votes cast by MLAs to be made public.